Temecula Wine Country

Another day in Temecula Wine Country with Paula & Chris… with its breathtaking natural beauty,and warm soothing weather.  The snow capped mountains and bright yellow mustard plants growing between fields of vines were all ingredients for the perfect Spring day.

We started off our Temecula wine tour at Paula and Chris’s house. They have the perfect set up for a wine party. Their house is filled with wine décor featuring framed wine art, wine bottle peppermill, ceramic wine chiller, wine plates, slate cheese tray, wine lamp, professional wine opener, dual temp wine refrigerator and more… and just about every wine accessory imaginable.  Though I noticed on our last wine trip they were missing one of our best sellers the Clef Du Vin Pocket Professional. So, Sean and I brought one with us on our visit to Temecula. We had fun testing our favorite wine accessoriesand aerator together.

After our wine experiment we sipped wine and nibbled on three well paired cheeses:  Gorgonzola Piccante a robust, firm hard cheese that crumbles and pairs well with a full bodied red.  The Aged Gouda, a full flavored cheese and New York Cheddar, both went great with the sliced meat.  We devoured the delicious crackers with dry salami and the option of accenting your appetizer with my favorite the Chipolte Deli Style Gourmet Mustard by Griffin or Sweet Hot Mustard Honey by Inglehoffer.

Once again, Sean and I want to thank Paula and Chris for their warm hospitality as well as their insights into more Temecula Wine Country locations for this trip.  I told you we’d be back…

Temecula Wineries

Our one Temecula day tour included tastings at three southern California wineries.  Each had their own distinctive atmosphere being cottage style and quaint, casual and homey, or modern and stately. Our Temecula Tasting Tour Included Visits to:

  • Briar Rose Winery
  • Alexs Red Barn Winery
  • Monte De Oro Winery



Briar Rose Winery

First stop on our wine tour is a boutique winery called Briar Rose, a hidden gem in Temecula Valley.  We didn’t know what to expect of this winery since it was recently introduced to even Paula and Chris, who both live here.  The enchanting walk through the tall hedges that fronted a fairy tale like cottage put on the set of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, it was an absolute treasure.

We checked in for our reservation (as required by reservation only) and viewed their premium and standard tasting lists, which were surprisingly expensive. We selected their premium tasting  then stepped outside to a courtyard of tables with an amazing view of stone columned fence, fields of flowers and snowy peaked caps of mountains. The back drop of natural beauty and the adjacent quaint cottage architecture was the perfect setting for an afternoon tasting.

Premium Tasting List

  • 2009 Estate Viognier
  • 2004 Holiday Petit Verdot
  • 2005 Temecula One
  • 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 “Katrina” Estate Zinfandel
  • 2009 Talking Frog


Long story short – we joined their wine club since every since one of their wine was absolutely terrific!  Just about all of their wines are Estate bottled. This means their wines are made with 100% from grapes grown on their vineyards.  Our beautiful wine hostess, Christine, explained further that their handcrafted Temecula wines can only be purchased at their winery since Briar Rose Winery produces wines in small quantities with great care.

One of Sean’s favorites was their 2009 Estate Viognier. It is a perfect poolside summer white wine that is light and filled with peach aromas. Christine then introduced us to their 2004 Petit Verdot. It boasted more flavors and aromas since it comes from a first press as wineries generally press their grapes several times.

Their premier wines usually consist of the first press which extracts the flavor and aroma from the skin of the grapes.  This wine exhibited a massive structure filled with aromas of white pepper, spice, blackberry, and truffle with a lingering finish of blackberries, clove, and plum.  At first this was my favorite of their excuisite wines but then we were introduced to even better reds.

The next wine upset us as Christine explained Briar Rose Winery’s 1st place award winning wine.  It originally scored 95 points at the Caesars Palace wine contest.  Once the judges heard it was from Temecula they dropped it 4 points. How can this be??   This is what Temecula wine lovers call “valley prejudice”.  Before a drop of wine hit my glass, the first served at the end of the table were in awe. Chris said, “the nose on this one is incredible – cedar and sage.”  Sitting at the opposite end of the table, I now was even more eager to try this wine after such a great comment by an avid wine taster. Finally my turn came, you must visit Brian Rose Winery to try this spectacularly light but body filled wine.  It is a blended wine modeled after the Italian Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  It is superb!

We all thoroughly enjoyed their 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from their private collection.  This was actually my favorite!  This medium body wine has notes of cherries, tobacco, and spices.  It is aged for 18 months in French oak and is said to evolve over time into an enchanted wine.

The 2007 “Katrina” Estate Zinfandel has a light jammy finish of ripe black cherries and plum.  The jammy finish isn’t as strong as the wines from Paso but is different in that it has a refreshing long finish.  The last wine we tried is their 2009 Talking Frog a carbonated Viognier.  We were informed that it is created with Hefeweizen beer thus the name Hefe-N-Vine.  Being one of my favorite beers I had to switch my selection from their last premier list tasting of the 2009 Fume Rose to this unique sparkling wine. It was such a unique wine, and refreshing one as well that we went home with a bottle which we’re saving for a hot day on the beach.

Alexs Red Barn Winery

Open Saturdays & Sundays from 11:00-6:00 (Summer hours) and 10:00-5:00 (Winter Hours)

The experience at Alexs Red Barn Winery is super casual and ultra laid back. This small family winery produces limited quantities. So, if you favor a bottle be sure to stock up after your tasting.
Tasting List Includes

    • Old-vine Sauvignon Blanc
    • Old-vine Cabernet Sauvignon
    • Old-vine Johannisberg Riesling
    • Old-vine White Cabernet Sauvignon (Sold Out)
    • Syrah
    • Viognier
    • Solera-Type Cream Sherry



Their Old-vine Riesling has a surprisingly dry elegance to it, unlike the typical sweet Riesling, but still ranked second favorite from there tasting list.  The best taste is their Solera Style Sherry. If you don’t have a lot of time (or tolerance) to visit all wineries on your Temecula wine country tasting list, then we recommend visiting this winery and sharing a glass of their silky Sherry.  Sip this delicious wine outside where they have picnic tables surrounded by colorful landscaping.  It is hands down the best wine on their list.  Their Cream Sherry is a full Oloroso made of Palomino grapes.  This is one of the three types of Sherry.  It is described as darker in color, sweeter and higher in alcohol than the other two Sherry types.

So what does Solera mean?  It refers to the method of blending older wines with younger wines.  This Spanish blending method occurs with delicately stacked barrels where the barrels holding the oldest wines are on the bottom and the younger wines are stacked in barrels above in decreasing age tiers.  Sherry is filtered and bottled once a year from the bottom barrels.  The void in the bottom barrels is replaced with wine from the barrels directly above and then these barrels’ voids are filled with the younger wines stacked in barrels above them.  The purpose blending wines from stacks of barrels holding various aged wines is to end with a consistent product.

Temecula’s Newest Winery –    Monte De Oro Winery

Daily Tastings from 10:00-5:00

We learned about Monte De Oro Winery at Chef Marty’s demonstration cooking classes in Temecula. His cooking classes are terrific and quickly sold out, that’s another story. Anyways, he is one of the investors that formed this winery. Their brand new facility is 31,000 square feet.  The atmosphere is modern in both architecture and décor.  An inviting outdoor veranda serves as a perfect place for sipping wines on a sunny day with 180 degree panoramic view of the Palomar, San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains.  Below their tasting room is their wine barrel room. You can see it from the tasting room by looking through their impressive glass floor.
Tasting List Includes

  • 2007 Viognier MDO Owner’s Private Label
  • 2008 Chardonnay
  • 2006 Merlot
  • 2006 Cabernet Franc
  • 2006 Syrah
  • 2006 Zinfandel
  • 2005 Synergy 65

Of these wines we tasted 6 of our choice. Their Cabernet Sauvignon stood out from our tastings. They describe it exhibiting black currant and blackberry; nuances of bell pepper and violets with a silky finish. Their 2006 Zinfandel was pleasant to drink as well. It has hints of red raspberries, chocolate, cinnamon stock and white pepper.

As we left this winery we enjoyed views of rows of vines with yellow mustard plants growing between the vines.  Even though the vines are naked during this time of year, colorful flowers  still bloomed everywhere.  What looks like colorful, wild weeds between the vines are actually intentionally planted by Vineyard growers. These mustard plants have a positive effect in the vineyard.  They help reduce soil erosion, improve the soil, assists in controlling root-knot nematode and keeps worms from eating the vines.

We had a wonderful, relaxing time tasting in Temecula Wine Country again!  We’ll be back soon for Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival June 4th-6th.  We’ve heard this exciting venue includes wine tastings, wine and food pairings, live music concerts, an evening balloon glow and morning picturesque skies filled with hot air balloons.

We missed visiting the highly recommended Chili Gourmet, Chili Pepper Products & Novelty Store as well as WINE on a dime for 10 cent wine tastings. Keep a look out for reviews on our Old Town Temecula visits to fun specialty shops this June.

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